Author Topic: Sega 32X  (Read 16844 times)


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Sega 32X
« on: October 27, 2008, 08:04:59 pm »
So I found me one of these Sega 32X doohickeys, which just so happened to be completely filthy..!  I haven't even tried to see if it works yet, partially because I lack the cables, but I figure I'll be able to rig something up.  I wanted to clean it up first though, particularly since I was afraid all the gunk on it could cause problems.  Plus, yuck, I didn't even like to handle the thing.  Whoever it belonged to sure loved their sweets, as the inside and out could attest to.

For those not totally in the know, the 32X was an expansion for the Genesis, which gave it better sound, better graphics (with two 32-bit CPUs), more memory, etc.  It was also a total failure, both due to Sega's own fault, and because Nintendo was making better quality games for the SNES with much cheaper add-on components, like the SuperFX chips and such, which didn't require some dumb bulky piece of hardware to play.  There only ended up being a couple dozen or so 32X games ever made.  They say it was a pain to program for, probably in part due to not only having to deal with two CPUs, but you also had ones in the Genesis you could use, so I doubt anyone ever truly took advantage of it.

(image stolen from intertubes)

Fun fact: The Sega Saturn was basically a 32x in a console of its own, and was also a total failure..!

Anyway, while I was taking it apart, I intially thought that it seemed well made.  The top part of the shell lifted right off, followed by the upper shielding.  But after looking over the board, and then later pulling it the rest of the way apart, I came to realize that the electronics didn't seem to get the same attention as the case may have.  It actually seems outright sloppy, to be honest.  There's literally wires soldered to resistors and junk just run through the thing, almost looking like the end result of somebody modding it.  All of that should have been routed through ribbons or something.    But since it wasn't, you end up with two separate boards which are impossible to separate short of desoldering wires.

There are actually two ribbon connectors on the board(s), but they're put in such a position and the case is designed in such a way that any stuff that gets down in through the cartridge slot can gunk up the connectors.  The cartridge slot exposes a whole lot of the innards of the thing, believe it or not.  The 32X supposedly had a uncommonly high failure rate, which is probably lagely in part due to how exposed its guts are.  I can't attest to the actual build quality of the electronics, other than what I already mentioned with the wiring.

Overall, I think the idea was commendable, but as typical with Sega, the implementation was flawed.  They always wanted to be first and best, but cut corners every time.  Kind of like how the sound hardware in the Genesis was crap, which really held it back in some regards.  Poor design choices for this thing are, for example, requiring two AC adapters to even use it (one for the console, one for the 32X).  You also had to hook a cable between the Genesis and the 32X for the video to work properly, despite it already being plugged into the cartridge slot.  It wouldn't work with every model of Genesis without certain brackets.  You couldn't use the Power Base Converter with it, or certain Genesis games which had extra circuitry to make them better (similar to SuperFX I guess).  It was just a mess.

Anyhoo, since I rarely see any pictures of the innards on the interwebs, I thought I'd take a few as I was cleaning it and post'em up.  Which was really the whole point of this post, until I went to blabbing..!

(with top casing removed)

(shielding removed, notice the messy wiring)

(all casing removed, viewed from top)

(as normally viewed from the front)

(as normally viewed from the rear)

So now I have to rig up a DIN cable for the video, and find an extra AC adapter, and see if the thing even works.  I don't have any 32X games to test it with, but I guess I can at least see if the Genesis pass-through works.

« Last Edit: October 27, 2008, 08:07:59 pm by FyberOptic »